The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a distressing surge in the number of children whose caregivers are opting them out of routine childhood vaccines, reaching an all-time high (Source: NBC News).
This concerning trend potentially leaves hundreds of thousands of children vulnerable to preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough.
The CDC’s report, released on Thursday, indicated a notable increase in vaccine exemptions, with 3% of children entering kindergarten during the 2022-2023 school year granted an exemption from their state.
This marks the highest exemption rate ever reported in the United States, signaling a worrisome decline in vaccination coverage among children.
The report did not delve into the specific reasons behind this surge in vaccine exemptions, but experts pointed to a growing unease about medicine in general among Americans.
Dr. Amna Husain, a pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, highlighted the rising distrust in the healthcare system, noting that vaccine exemptions have unfortunately trended upward in conjunction with this sentiment.
Across the United States, 40 states witnessed an increase in vaccine exemptions, and in 10 states—Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin—the exemption rate surpassed 5%, signifying a significant jump.
Idaho stood out with more than 12% of children entering kindergarten having a vaccine exemption in 2022.
This surge in vaccine exemptions appears to coincide with doubts about COVID-19 vaccines. Dr. Mysheika Roberts, health commissioner for Columbus Public Health, expressed concerns about the trickle-down effect from adult vaccine hesitancy impacting vaccination coverage for children.
Shannon Stokley, deputy director for science implementation in CDC’s Immunization Services Division, expressed concern about the failure to recover vaccination rates, emphasizing that it means there are children who may be unprotected from serious diseases.
The alarming increase in vaccine exemptions raises public health concerns, emphasizing the need for targeted efforts to rebuild trust in vaccines and ensure comprehensive immunization coverage for children across the nation.